Darts: Warriner is made to struggle

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The Independent Online

Alan Warriner produced a gutsy performance to book his place in the second round of the Skol World Championship in Purfleet yesterday. The No 1 seed battled to a 4-2 win over Reg Harding, being pushed all the way by the Sussex thrower.

Harding started with a 140 and took the opening leg with his third attempt at double 10. But the "Ice Man" hit back immediately to level the score. After winning a scrappy third leg, Warriner eventually claimed the first set with double 10.

With the score tied at 2-2 in the second, Harding missed six attempts to clinch the set and Warriner accepted the opening to double his advantage. Harding, the No 27 seed, fought back in the next to move 2-1 ahead before Warriner replied with a 120 check-out. However, Harding held his nerve to find double 10.

In a see-saw battle, the next four legs were shared before Warriner regained a two-set cushion with a successful attempt at double 16. Warriner eased into a 2-0 lead in the fifth, but Harding raised the roof at the Circus Tavern with a brilliant comeback to win 3-2.

However, it was Warriner who showed coolness under pressure to edge the sixth set 3-2 and take the match. A relieved Warriner said: "I was always in command but I let too many legs slip through silly doubles and bad scoring. I've got three days off now so I will just relax. My game is very good at the moment, but that performance was below par."

Kevin Painter, the man who sent Phil Taylor crashing out of the World Grand Prix last month, suffered a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Ronnie Baxter, the No 12 seed. Painter made a bright start, winning the opening set by three legs to two, but Baxter then turned on the style to take the next three sets.

Richie Burnett, a former world champion, produced an impressive display to inflict a 4-1 defeat on Peter Evison.

Evison opened with a maximum 180 and went on to take the first leg and the first set.

Burnett was trailing 2-1 in the second set, but Evison missed a shot at double eight and Burnett got his first attempt at double top. The No 8 seed won the deciding leg to take the set and level the score.

Evison then reeled off two maximums before a treble 20 and treble 15 put him in with a chance of the magical nine-dart finish ­ and a cheque for £100,000. But his third dart flighted just wide of double 18. He did manage to hold his nerve and win the opening leg, but Burnett won the next three legs ­ including a 142 checkout ­ to claim the set and from then it was routine for the Welshman.

There was little contest for Dennis Smith as he brushed aside the American Paul Lim in straight sets. Lim, the last man to hit a nine-darter on live television, could not find his form against the world No 5, winning just three legs.

The Irish Masters champion Denis Ovens held his nerve to clinch a place in the next round by fighting back from 3-1 down to beat Andy Jenkins 4-3.

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